Once again, Project AWARE‘s International Cleanup Day was a smashing success! This past Saturday, 25 September 2010 we tackled Mission Bay Beach’s shores for our beach and underwater cleanup. Volunteers, divers and non-divers alike, showed up to help us collect about 12 kilograms of rubbish from the beach and the ocean. And again, the most numerous bits of trash left behind were cigarette butts and drink bottle caps/lids. Food wrappers and containers were the next most prevalent, indicating that in the more populous areas, individuals littering is the biggest issue we need to tackle – as well as getting food shops and food suppliers to use more biodegradable materials when packaging food and/or handing out utensils.
And once again, more than half of the volume we picked up was recyclable material.
Bearing that in mind, my suggestion for trying to curb this behaviour? Why, yes, as always, education! If we tirelessly continue to educate ourselves, our kids, our friends, loved ones, colleagues, et cetera about the need to dispose of/recycle our trash responsibly, we can help stop thousands (yes, thousands) of tonnes of garbage from polluting our seas. Last year on International Cleanup Day 2009, 220,000 kgs of debris were removed from the ocean alone (see Project AWARE’s global data here). This was what was collected in one day. Also, getting involved in being part of the solution – as our wonderful volunteers from NIWA, Global Dive, the White Shark Conservation Trust and my own dear (unaffiliated) friends did – helps raise awareness among the general public too, and of course reminds us to be responsible with disposing of our own rubbish.
Another bright moment from Saturday, other than the intermittent sun showing its face once in a while, was the chance to meet with Sam, Camden and Simon from Sustainable Coastlines, a charity organisation based in Tirau, Waikato. Sustainable Coastlines takes a holistic approach to developing solutions for keeping our coasts clean and working with communities and individuals to implement solutions throughout New Zealand. I am hoping to meet with these guys again soon – I’m looking forward to working with them toward a common goal, and gain some insight into what projects they are planning – and see if I can help.
Some photos from the day are below. Thanks again to all of you who helped out, I am so grateful for the support shown and I am proud of the efforts you all put forth! And of course, a big thank you to Global Dive for sponsoring the materials and the barbecue on the day!